August is Clear the Shelters Month, and there are some great perks to adopting a pet.
Many dogs in shelters are mixed breeds. dr Amber Karwacki, a vet at Heart + Paw, said it’s a good thing.
“Mixed breeds tend to be a bit healthier than our purebred dogs,” she said.
Every animal is different, but when you adopt an adult dog or cat they may be well behaved from their previous home.
Adopting a pet saves money
Adopting a dog or cat usually costs hundreds of dollars less than buying a dog. The adoption fee helps the organization rescue more stray animals, and bringing home a pet from the shelter opens a place for another animal in need.
Most shelters and animal shelters pay for the spaying and neutering surgeries on the animals they adopt. If a puppy is too young to have surgery before going to their new home, some shelters will offer a voucher.
Pets have usually been examined by a veterinarian and are usually up to date on all vaccines and treated with flea, tick and heartworm prevention, saving the owner more money.
Find the right pet for your family
Karwacki shared some tips for new owners looking to adopt from a shelter.
Your first tip is to choose a dog or cat that fits your lifestyle. A good match is key to ensuring the animal is not returned to the shelter.
“Knowing what the dog or cat needs,” she said. “Some dogs need more energy, like Cattle Dogs, Labradors, and German Shepherds. They need areas to run, they need employment, or they will become destructive in your home.”
Make sure the pet is a good match for your whole family.
“If you have kids at home, make sure you get a kid-friendly pet that’s been tested with kids,” Karwacki said. “If you have other dogs or cats in the home, see if they’ve been tested with other dogs and cats before, and if you’re not around much, consider a cat versus a dog because cats are more independent are. “
It’s not just the activity level. Some dogs require extensive grooming that owners don’t want to pay for.
“You also have to think about dogs like poodles or shih tzus or similar breeds,” Karwacki said. “You need grooming sessions. So if they don’t want to pay for grooming and things like that, this isn’t the dog for them.”
Adopters can ask shelter staff for information about a dog’s specific needs and behavior. Even if the dog is a mixed breed, a quick Google search or a look at the American Kennel Club’s website can teach you a lot about this breed, Karwacki said.
How to make new pets comfortable
You can make a pet feel welcome in your home by creating a space just for them – a pet bed or crate where they have room to stand and lie.
“Have their food and water bowls close by and you want it in a quieter area. When your house is very busy, you have a quiet place where they can relax,” Karwacki said. “If you have children at home, I always say to warn them not to run to the dog all the time. You should let the dog come to you.”
Karwacki said it can take three months for a dog to become comfortable in a new home, so be patient during those first few weeks.
“Don’t expect everything to happen in one day,” she said. “Give them some time to relax, learn the routines of the house, and learn that everything will be fine. If they’ve been to different animal shelters or rescue organizations, they may not know that this is a permanent thing for them.”
Find a vet
It’s rare, but if you’re adopting or rescuing an animal without veterinary records, make an appointment as soon as possible.
Even if your new pet has been vaccinated and started on preventive medication, you should make an appointment within a month, Karwacki said.
“Within that first month of having your pet, if everything is up to date, you should see your vet,” she said. “It puts a vet on call should an emergency arise, and it also allows your vet to get all the records for your new dog or cat into the system so nothing is overlooked.”
Heartworm medication and some flea and tick treatments are only available by prescription, so you’ll need a vet visit to get those as well.
Karwacki has two shelter pets of her own and is grateful for Clear the Shelters.
“I think it’s great to try and get these pets into homes instead of leaving them in shelters because we have so many in shelters and they’re all good pets,” she said. “It’s always fun to have them. They are a wonderful addition to the household.”